Almost as prolific as she is popular, Pierce bucks convention and brings this novel to audio a year in advance of its hardcover publication. Once a writer for radio theater, Pierce tailors the narrative to audio, which is evident in the enhanced use of dialogue to convey plot and the streamlined descriptions. The story itself is a continuation of adventures begun in Street Magic , part of the author's Circle of Magic cycle--fortunately, listeners can easily enter the fantasy world here without any previous acquaintance. Narrator Evvy, a young and battle-scarred mage whose words and thoughts are crisply, even commandingly read by Kelly, goes with her guardian Rosethorn to a "battle island" where the plants are dying off. With help from her friend Luvo, the living heart of a mountain (his voice sounds a bit robotic), she discovers that volcanic spirits plan to erupt. Production values are consistently high: carefully integrated original music raises the emotional stakes, and a skilled cast delivers full-bodied performances, even making good on lines like "his voice was as hard asdiamonds, and as soft as chalk." The novel is not one of Pierce's more surprising or innovative, but her typically strong characterizations and the superb acting camouflage its deficiencies. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)[Page 66]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.